Episode 8 – MJAS Exclusive: Michael Jackson & Prince Part I

Abstract: In this eighth episode, an MJAS Exclusive, Elizabeth and Karin are joined by guests, fellow academics, Lisha McDuff and Roberta Meek, to discuss Michael Jackson’s art, resonance and cultural impact alongside the late musician, Prince. In the first of two podcast episodes, we delve into facets of Jackson and Prince that you may never have thought of before, offering new perspectives on their careers and their posthumous reception.


Merx, Karin, Elizabeth Amisu, Roberta Meek, and Lisha McDuff. “Episode 8 – MJAS Exclusive: Michael Jackson & Prince Part I (with Lisha Mcduff & Roberta Meek).” Podcast, Michael Jackson’s Dream Lives On: An Academic Conversation 2, no. 3 (2016). Published electronically 28/05/16. http://michaeljacksonstudies.org/episode-8-28516-mjas-exclusive-michael-jackson-prince-part-i/.

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Episode 8 – MJAS Exclusive: Michael Jackson & Prince Part I
By Karin Merx, Elizabeth Amisu, Lisha McDuff and Roberta Meek

When you have a great artist they are going to fool you every time. They are going to take whatever you give them and they’re going to make art out of it.’
– Lisha McDuff

‘Prince is the epitome of cool, from the 1980s on, for black audiences, for black male audiences… This is not a dependency on a crossover. This is not a dependency on a white mass audience… Prince like Michael was sexually appealing to anybody and everybody on the gender spectrum on any level…’
– Roberta Meek

Episode Questions:
1. Do you find significance in the fact that Michael Jackson died at 50 and Prince died at 57?
2. We have a lot of comparative discussions about MJ. How helpful or unhelpful do you think these comparisons are
3. Does the tendency to compare African-American artists tell us about how they are perceived by the establishment.
4. 1987’s Bad was intended as a duet between MJ & Prince. What are your thoughts on that?
5. Let’s discuss MJ & Prince difficulties with their record labels. How do you think this affected artistic output of their careers?

Michael Jackson and Prince Book Cover The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies
This episode is available for sale as an edited book via Amazon Kindle.

Karin Merx BMus, MA, is editor of The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies, and author of  ‘A festive parade of highlights. La Grande Parade as evaluation of the museum policy of Edy De Wilde at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam’. Find out more about Karin here.

Elizabeth Amisu, PGCE, MA, is editor of The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies and author of The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson: His Music, His Persona, and His Artistic AfterlifeFind out more about Elizabeth here.

Lisha McDuff is a classically trained professional musician with an MA in Popular Music Studies from the University of Liverpool. She is currently continuing her research at McMaster University, focusing on the art of Michael Jackson. She is the co-presenter of the acclaimed academic blog, Dancing with the Elephant: Conversations about Michael Jackson, His Art and Social Change. Find out more about Lisha here.

Roberta Meek is a full-time lecturer at Muhlenberg College. A historian trained at Temple University, she specializes in African American history and the history of race and social movements in the US context. In Fall 2015, she was able to put both her scholarly expertise and knowledge to work in teaching a First Year Seminar on Michael Jackson. Find out more about Roberta here.

All Our References and Where to Easily Find Them
1. Find out more about Roberta Meek here.
2. Find out more about Lisha McDuff here.
3. Prince’s debut album, For You (1978). His feature-length film, Purple Rain (dir. Albert Magnoli, 1984).
4. A useful explanation of the Rockist Aesthetic – Ian Crouch, ‘People Who Like Céline Dion Are People, Too‘, The New Yorker (8 May 2014)
5. Prince Rogers Nelson – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
6. Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Fair Housing Act (1968).
7. Martin Luther King’s assassination 4 April 1968.
8. “Music censorship interest group, known as the “Washington Wives”. Formed in 1985 by Tipper Gore, Susan Baker, Pam Howar, Nancy Thurmond, and Sally Nevius. Without any valid scientific basis, ascribed multiple evils in society to be rooted in popular music — see The PMRC Filthy Fifteen. The Recording Industry Association of America eventually added a “Parental Advisory — Explicit Lyrics” label to certain products.” (NNDB)
9. Eric D. Nuzum, Parental Advisory: Music Censorship in America (Harper Collins, 2001)
10. Julian Petley, ‘“Are We Insane ?”. The “Video Nasty” Moral Panic‘, Recherches Sociologiques et Anthropologiques
11. Warwick, Jacqueline. ““You Can’t Win, Child, but You Can’t Get out of the Game”: Michael Jackson’s Transition from Child Star to Superstar.Popular Music and Society 35, no. 2 (2012): 241-59.
12. Herman Gray, Watching Race: Television and the Struggle for Blackness. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995)
13. President Ronald Reagan Hosts Michael Jackson at the White House (1984)
14. Robert Walser, ‘Rhythm, Rhyme, and Rhetoric in the Music of Public Enemy‘, Ethnomusicology, Vol. 39, No. 2 (Spring – Summer, 1995), pp. 193-217
15.  Joseph Vogel, ‘Prince and Michael Jackson: The Rivalry and the Revolution’, PopMatters.
16. MJDLO Episode 1 (29/6/15): Was Michael Jackson an Artist? – features a thirty-minute discussion of Jackson’s 1991 Panther Coda sequence in the Black or White short film, directed by John Landis.
17. MJDLO Episode 5 (28/3/16): MJAS Exclusive – Michael Jackson’s Estate – we discuss the sale of the Sony/ATV catalogue and some of the details around Jackson’s original purchase of his stake.
18. Derek Thompson, ‘The Death of Music Sales‘, The Atlantic: ‘The recorded music industry is being eaten, not by one simple digital revolution, but rather by revolutions inside of revolutions, mouths inside of mouths, Alien-style. Digitization and illegal downloads kicked it all off. MP3 players and iTunes liquified the album.’
19. ‘Even After $750M Sony/ATV Deal, Michael Jackson Misconceptions Abound‘ by Zack O’Malley Greenburg.
20. Artist, Michael Jackson’s Last Will and Testament.
21. Zack O’Malley Greenburg, Michael Jackson, Inc. (Atria, 2014): 225-226.
22. Robert Klitzman, Did Prince Suffer from ‘VIP Syndrome’? (CNN, 2016)
23. Jumana Farouky, Why Prince’s Free CD Ploy Worked (Time, 2007)
24. Katie Allen, Music industry attacks Sunday newspaper’s free Prince CD (The Guardian, 2007)
25. Prince in second free album deal with newspapers (BBC, July 2010)


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